The last invasive species we are going to meet for National Invasive Species Week is Saltcedar (Tamarix ramosissima).
Saltcedar is native Eurasia and Africa, it was deliberately released in the U.S. in 1837 to help control wind and water erosion and has been used in the past as an ornamental. Saltcedar is a deciduous, small tree and can grow up to 30 feet in height. The stems are thin, giving it a wispy appearance. The leaves are scale-like and overlap, somewhat reminiscent of juniper leaves. The pink flowers are tiny and occur in plumes that bloom from spring through fall. Saltcedar produces a long, deep taproot that can pull groundwater from great depths. It is a perennial that reproduces by seed, roots and stem fragments--making it difficult to control.
Saltcedar often occurs along the edges of waterways, lakes and ponds. They can also occur in waterways and moist range lands and pastures. They are very tolerant of salt and can grow in highly saline soils and alkali conditions. Some of the issues associated with saltcedar are a result of their deep taproots. The deep taproots allow them to suck up water from deep in the ground, interfering with natural aquatic systems, sometimes running them dry. This has contributed to significant reductions in beneficial vegetation, such as willows, cottonwoods and other plants important to the natural environment. In addition, their leaves hold a lot of salt, so when the leaves fall to the ground they create areas with a high concentration of salt, which also inhibits the growth of beneficial vegetation.
According to the "Nevada Noxious Weed Field Guide," Cutting, digging or burning saltcedar must be combined with a chemical application to be effective. There is a biological control agent that is available, but the guide does not tell us what it is. You can apply imazapyr to actively growing foliage during flowering and triclopyr, glyphosate or imazapyr to a cut stump or as a basal bark treatment. Check with a certified pesticide applicator to get current information on pesticide use.
Creech, Earl, Schultz, Brad and Blecker, Lisa. Nevada Noxious Weed Field Guide. University of Nevada Cooperative Extension, 2010. PDF available here.
U.S. Department of Agriculture, Species Profiles, "Saltcedar entry", accessed 3-2-2012, see entry here.
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